Sunday, May 30, 2010

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Picture of the Week

This week's picture is an outtake. I was taking pictures of some of the artwork we have in the house and I was trying to get a picture of this particular piece. The piece, however, was too high up for me and I ended up only getting half of the painting in the picture. I love this painting because it's of a little ballerina and I love this picture because all you see are her ballet shoes. I bought this one along with one of the moon and stars when Alex and I first started dating close to 7 years ago. It amazes me how quickly time flies.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

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Baked Mascarpone & Mozarella Pasta

I completely forgot to share this recipe with you. I made it a long time ago and absolutely loved it. I tweaked the recipe a little and the resulting meal was phenomenal. What I loved the most about this dish was that I got to use a cheese (mascarpone) I rarely use and I got to use it in savory dish instead of a sweet dish. The pasta was cheesy, creamy, and had such a fresh and smooth taste. It was like a kicked up Italian mac & cheese. If you love cheese, then this dish is for you.
Baked Mascarpone & Mozzarella Pasta
Adapted from Cooking Light (here)

1/2 pound uncooked penne (I used shells)
1/8 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz ham, sliced (or prosciutto)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoon butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I omitted)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook 10 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in salt and black pepper.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sliced ham; cook until crispy. Add ham and cooked pasta to cheese mixture and stir until coated. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs until well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over pasta mixture. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.

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Blog Award

It's always nice getting compliments on the blog. I put a lot of work into it and am constantly thinking about blog posts (does that happen to anyone else?). Blogging has become harder ever since Cati arrived and my brain isn't functioning at the capacity it used to, so to be given the Versatile Blogger Award means a lot. That just tells me that even though I feel like my posts are all over the place, they make sense in the grand scheme of things. Instead of being a scatter-brain airhead, I'm versatile :)

Thanks to Sarah of Growing on Gettysburg for passing the award along to me! Now, here are 7 random facts about me:

1. I collect playing cards.
2. I'm originally from Chicago, IL but we moved to FL when I was 6.
3. When I was younger I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I found out you had to be good at and know a lot of science and decided against it.
4. I feel more comfortable and more like myself when I wear a ponytail.
5. I have a star named after me.
6. If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I thought my life would look like now I'd tell you I wouldn't be married or have a kid. Well played Life.
7. I was in a sorority in college. Go ZTA!

I'm passing this award along to 4 other great versatile bloggers:

Katrina of Baking and Boys!
Cara of The Picky Apple
Eliana of A Chica Bakes
Jen of Beantown Baker

Friday, May 28, 2010

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This Week in Mommyhood

The biggest news around here is that we got a new car! Let me just say that car shopping is not fun with your 3.5 month old. It's always such an ordeal and it takes forever! Cati was a trooper but she still had her moments of flipping out. Luckily enough, she only had to endure 2 days of car shopping and we came home with a brand new car that she seems to love. I think I know why she loves it too. The car is higher up and, as a result, her car seat sits higher up in the car and she's actually able to see out the windows. Either way, this week marks a huge improvement in her car riding capabilities. Before she would cry during every car ride. This week I was surprised when she remained calm on multiple car trips. I think someone might have switched out my child for another, but then again that's how things work with babies. They change so quickly week to week.Cati is enjoying tummy time more. She's never been a fan of being on her tummy but this week she's actually tolerating it more. And it's great because she is lifting her head so high up and she's able to move herself a couple of inches forward. At one point I had her on her tummy and I turned away to put something in her closet and when I turned back to her she was on her back. I couldn't believe how quickly she turned!
Last week I mentioned how Cati finally noticed Perla. Well, this week Perla has taken a very active interest in Cati. I think Perla is still wondering what this little human is doing here :)
I'm wondering if Cati is starting to teethe. I can't see anything in her gums but she drools a lot and she chews on everything that goes into her mouth. She doesn't suck on things, she chews. She also likes to chew on the bottle nipple, which drives me off the wall.
We visited Alex at work twice this week and it's always fun to show off the baby. The best part is having multiple people say Cati looks like me. It's amazing how much babies change. When she was first born everyone said she looked exactly like Alex. Now that she's getting older and fatter, more and more people are saying she looks like me. I like to joke that Cati should at least look like me since her dad is going to forever have her heart.
I'm still struggling with clogged ducts. I hate that I have to deal with them as often as I do. I've made the decision to start weaning myself from the pump. I still plan on having Cati on breast milk exclusively until she's a year old but I'm hoping that with weaning I will be able to make my supply more aligned with Cati's eating. Before the last bout of mastitis I was freezing 30 oz of milk a day and now I am storing a little more than 20 oz per day. I would like to donate some milk, anyone have any experience with this?
Being a mom is so rewarding but it's so hard. Not only is having a child with a developing personality and temperament hard but it's also hard to take the pressure off of yourself. You want so badly to do everything right that most things become an emotional issue. It's hard to be rational when so much of you is swelling with love.
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Reviewed: Le Boudoir Breakfast

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I'm more of a pancakes kind of girl but, every once in a while, I like to try other breakfast items. I went to Le Boudoir with my mother-in-law recently and indulged in a tasty (and somewhat pricey) breakfast. The only reason I say it was pricey is because I am used to the diners we used to eat at in Boston where you would get a plate full of breakfast goodies and OJ for under $10. At Le Boudoir the cheapest thing is $2.50 and that's for a croissant. All other dishes are between $7 and $10.

With all that said, let's get to the food. The portions are decent sizes and everything tastes incredibly delicious. My mother-in-law ordered a toasted bagel and salmon. She said the salmon tasted fresh and loved how, despite the bagel, the breakfast felt incredibly light.
I ordered the Croque Madame and, wow, this was spectacular. I eat every bit of it. This baby was covered in cheese and the bechamel sauce helped moisten things up (the bread is very, very thick).
Le Boudoir is located at 169 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, FL. I recommend going on a comfortable weather day because the restaurant has a great location for outdoor seating and people watching.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Cookie Wednesday: Vanilla-Bean Refrigerator Cookies

This week's cookie is a refrigerator cookie. I had been eying this recipe for quite some time now because I wanted to use up some the vanilla sugar I made. I was curious what the cookie would taste like and, while I expected it to be a delicious cookie, I didn't expect it to taste so much like Royal Dansk Butter Cookies (the square sugar one). Nonetheless, I like that you can get a really good cookie out of a combination of 6 ingredients.
Vanilla Bean Refrigerator Cookies
Source: Williams-Sonoma's Desserts
Yields 3 1/2 dozen

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
About 1 1/3 cups vanilla sugar
1 egg

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beta until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of the vanilla sugar and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce to low speed and add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Form the dough into a rough log, 10 inches long, in the center of a sheet of waxed paper. Fold one side of the paper over the dough and press to shape it into an even oblong, square, rectangular, or triangular log about 10 inches long. Wrap tightly in the waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter two baking sheets. Unwrap the dough and transfer to a work surface. Carefully cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with remaining vanilla sugar.

bake until the edges are brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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Apple Pie

My apologies for not making the Banana Coconut Ice Cream Pie. I won't lie. I didn't even look at the recipe for this week's TWD. Just didn't have it in me. It looks like delicious though. Don't know how well it would have gone over in this house because of the coconut but it still looks like a great dessert. Make sure to check out the recipe on Spike Bakes.
Instead, I kind of made an apple pie. I used store bought pie crusts but made the filling myself. The pie was really good, but I cut the apples too thin and sprinkled the top with turbinado sugar so the pie tasted more like an apply pastry than your typical apple pie. Can't complain much when served with ice cream :)

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople
Source: All Recipes (here)

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Monday, May 24, 2010

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Sweetly Simple Coffee Cake

I love easy recipes. I especially love when an easy recipe produces something that is extremely delicious. I went crazy for this coffee cake and ate half of it by myself. I had to constantly remind myself that I should save some for Alex. The cake was sweet and buttery and perfectly portioned because of the biscuits.

Sweetly Simple Coffee Cake
Source: Sing For Your Supper (here)

2 10-oz tubes refrigerated biscuits
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Arrange biscuits very close together in a 9″ round cake pan. Mix together margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts; spread over biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
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Obsession of the Week

Our last vacation was exactly a year ago and our next vacation probably won't be for another 7-8 months, but I still can't stop dreaming about the location of our next vacation. I plan on doing mini family vacations when Alex has time off but I am really looking forward to our first baby-free vacation. I can't wait for the opportunity to rediscover one another and to have time to really focus on each other. Date nights are fun because we get to spend alone time together but we don't really get to disconnect from our parenting roles (we spent our last date night looking at pictures of Cati on our phones). I know that we will never be able to completely disconnect from our roles as Cati's parents, but it will be nice to have time set apart that's meant to help us remember why we enjoy being a couple. I'm in between going somewhere domestic, like California, or going on a cruise. I would love to do either this cruise of the Panama Canal

or this one of the Mediterranean.
Both these cruises are wishful thinking because of their length but it would be sooo nice to go on one of them. What are your recommendations for great vacation locations?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

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Picture of the Week

I didn't get to take many pictures this week because my energy was low and I barely wanted to leave the house, so pickings are rather slim. The Picture of the Week is of one of my favorite flowers, the plumeria (the other is gardenia). I first discovered this flower when we went to Hawaii and was instantly in love with its look and its aroma. I even bought a frame that is made of scented plumerias. The flower comes in a variety of colors but my favorite was always the hot pink one. Imagine my joy when I realized that we have two plumeria trees on our property. The trees recently started blooming and I am constantly in search of decent looking flowers to bring into the house (I have 3 bowls ready to be filled with their flowery goodness). I decided to take pictures of some of the flowers and this one is my favorite. I love how the flower instantly draws you in; the colors are so vibrant against the background. Interestingly enough, the background is our cherry-finished dresser. I was actually surprised by the picture because I am still trying to figure out the macro function on the camera.

Friday, May 21, 2010

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This Week in Mommyhood

This was a particularly tough week. Not only has Cati had a few bad nights where she's waking up every 2 hours but I also got a second bout of mastitis. The mastitis is gone but I felt horrible for a day. I had a fever of close to 103, my boob was extremely tender and sore, and pumping was a complete bust. I threw up and spent a good chunk of time crying. I felt physically horrible and emotionally drained, but what really got to me was the feeling of not having enough energy to care for Cati properly. I handed her off to Alex as soon as he got home. I take a lot of precautions when I pump, but even so, I got mastitis. As it is, pumping is hard and something like this is so disheartening and frustrating. I'm trying to do what I feel is best for Cati by giving her breast milk and I keep getting clogged ducts and mastitis thrown at me. Shouldn't there be brownie points for this? Maybe even some kind of magic protection that says "breast milk present, do not clog or infect"?Now let me go back a minute to sleeping. I know that if by Cati's bedtime she has only eaten a certain amount, I'm in for a long night. But yesterday she ate a lot during the day so I was hopeful that last night would be a milestone in sleeping. Oh boy, was I wrong. She still woke up a lot. I know she will sleep more when she is ready and I have no choice but to wait until that happens, but all I can think about is whether this is a sign she is getting ready to start solids. Is breast milk not enough to keep her full?
Ok, enough venting and on to some good news. This week Cati actually acknowledged Perla! She even reached out for her and pulled her hair (not hard, I promise!). Normally they live in complete ignorance of one another except when Perla's barks startle Cati and Cati's cries startle Perla, so it's cool to see Cati starting to take an interest in Perla. I think they will be the best of buddies in the future. Cati also laughed! Or what I think is a laugh. I was playing with her and she smiled really big (I adore that gummy smile) and made a "hah" sound. I nearly fell over. I can't believe how much my little girl is really starting to interact with us.
I honestly can't remember what else happened this week because of the sleep deprivation and mastitis. One thing that keeps me going is the fact that each day is different. Cati keeps me permanently in the present so while one day may completely suck, the next day is a new day and there is renewed hope for a better day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

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Reviewed: Sophie the Giraffe

My friend Jen told me about Sophie the Giraffe and I got it as soon as I could. I love this toy and so does Cati! It's cute looking, it feels soft, it smells like baby oil, and it makes the cutest squeaky sound. We cannot get Cati to take a pacifier when she's throwing a fit but she will happily chew on one of Sophie's legs. This is the first toy that she reached for and grabbed. There have actually been parental meltdowns because Sophie was left at home by accident. I've had such a great experience with Sophie and recommend everyone get one!From Amazon: Sophie the Giraffe, full of discoveries and activities to awaken baby's senses. Sight: The dark and contrasting spots all over Sophie the Giraffe's body provide visual stimulation and make her easily recognizable to baby. She soon becomes a familiar and reassuring object. Hearing: Her squeaker keeps baby amused, stimulates his hearings, and helps him to understand the link between cause and effect. Taste: Sophie the Giraffe is very flexible and has lots of parts for baby to chew like ears, horns, legs. She is perfect for soothing baby's sore gums when teething and is completely safe. Made of 100% natural rubber and food paint. Touch: Sophie the Giraffe is perfect for baby's small hands. She is very light and her long legs and neck are easy for baby to grip. She is very soft to touch, just like baby's mummy, stimulating soothing physiological and emotional responses. Smell: The singular scent of natural rubber from Have tree makes Sophie the Giraffe very special and easy for your child to identify amid all his other toys. Phthalates and BPA free.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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TWD: Apple-Apple Bread Pudding

The baking gods decided to be kind to me. Somehow my bread pudding came out good after I royally messed up the recipe. I went into the recipe planning on making a third of it but I got distracted or my brain just stopped functioning and I ended up halving the liquids while I added a third of the eggs. Then I used regular butter and I didn't toast the bread to make it stale. Then I put the pudding in the oven right away instead of letting it sit for 30 minutes as the recipe calls for. It tasted great though and the bread pudding was gone the very same day. The bread pudding itself had a delicious vanilla taste to it and the apples added a nice tart punch to the dessert.
Thanks to Elizabeth of Cake or Death? for this week's selection. Make sure to head over to her blog to get the correct and full recipe. Also, don't forget to stop by TWD to see what the other bakers thought of this week's selection.

Monday, May 17, 2010

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Obsession of the Week

I'm getting ready for Cati's 3-month professional pictures and, in doing so, I have been trying to figure out her outfits. I know I want pictures of her in her tutu and flower headband; I can't wait to compare these to her newborn pictures in this outfit. I also know I want pictures of her in a customized onesie. I love the look of customized onesies and the biggest problem I face will be choosing just one to go with. I have spent hours upon hours looking at different types and styles. Here are a few of my favorites: